KTM and Husky head to Chile

Posted on August 09, 2018

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner, Sam Sunderland and Toby Price have travelled to Chile to contest the 2018 Atacama Rally – round three of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Following a strong start to the season at the opening round in Abu Dhabi, the trio will be keen to score valuable points as well as spend time on their KTM 450 RALLY machines in preparation for the 2019 Dakar Rally to be held in Peru in January.

The rally, this year held exclusively in the Atacama region around Copiapó, will see competitors contest five full stages of racing totalling over 1,300 kilometres. The condensed route, centred around the Chilean mining town, has resulted in short liaisons between each timed special. The riders won’t have it easy however – a lack of rain in the area has left the desert dry and without the usual vegetation, making navigation even tougher for all.

The Atacama marks the return to rally competition for Sunderland and Walkner since round one of the world championship held in Abu Dhabi back in March. Over the next two months, KTM will field a selection of riders at four events including the Atacama Rally, the Desafio Ruta 40, the Desafio Inka and the Rallye du Maroc.

All three Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team members contesting the 2018 Atacama are former Dakar Rally winners; Price in 2016, Sunderland 2017 and Walkner the current Dakar Rally reigning champion. Each rider is aiming to add to their current world championship points tally with just three rounds remaining. KTM Rally Sport Manager Jordi Viladoms knows the significance of the Atacama Rally in terms of both the World Championship and perhaps more importantly, preparation for the 2019 Dakar Rally.

Jordi Viladoms - KTM Rally Sport Manager: “The aim going into these last few cross-country races of the season is to win the world championship and bring all the riders back up to speed for the Dakar. The Atacama has been tricky in the past for the team, we are also up against the current world champion at his home rally. We saw last year navigation was tough and the road book was difficult to follow in places, so minimising mistakes in Chile is paramount for all riders. We have carried out some successful testing on the bike this year, but we now have to focus on the sandy conditions that will be seen throughout the 2019 Dakar – some of the Atacama stages will be perfect for this so we need to gain all the knowledge we can here in Chile.”

Following their victorious outing at the season opener in Abu Dhabi, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team are all set to make their return to the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship this coming week in Chile. Playing host to the third round of the 2018 series, the five-stage Atacama Rally will allow Pablo Quintanilla and Andrew Short to go head-to-head against the international elite of rally racers in preparation for the coming Dakar Rally in January, 2019.

Winner of the opening round of the 2018 series in Abu Dhabi, Pablo Quintanilla has his eyes set on successfully defending his FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title for the third consecutive season. With the team opting not to contest round two in Doha, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider is currently second in the provisional championship standings with three multi-stage rallies still to be contested in 2018. As the reigning Atacama Rally champion, Pablo can’t wait to get things going at this 2018 edition of the event.

Working hard during the last few months to improve in every little detail of his riding and navigation, Andrew Short will be looking to for a good overall placement at his first Atacama Rally this coming week. A strong asset for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team, the former motocross/supercross star is really looking forward to the 2018 Atacama Rally challenge.

Kicking off this Monday, August 13, the 2018 Atacama Rally will take place around the Chilean city of Copiapó. It features five long rally stages in various terrains, with the total length of timed special tests exceeding 1,300km. The race will end in the city of Copiapó on Saturday, August 18.

Daniel Trauner – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally team manager: “We are more than ready for the Atacama Rally challenge. Pablo and Andrew have been both working a lot for this event and we can’t wait to see them back racing their rally machines. Our main goal this season is to the retain our World Championship and we will do all we can to help Pablo win this title for a third consecutive season. Back to full fitness following a minor injury he sustained while training in Spain, Pablo is really looking forward to this race on his home Chilean soil. Pablo spent the last couple of weeks training hard on his Husqvarna. Taking advantage of his vast experience in multi-stage rallies, we believe a spot on the Atacama Rally podium is well within Pablo’s reach and will allow him to regain the lead in the provisional championship standings. As for Andrew, he’s been working really hard back in the US to improve his navigational skills and his speed in the long stages. We want to see him gradually close the time gap to the top riders on each stage. He’s been making some good progress and getting some well-needed experience and we are all confident he will keep improving day by day at this event. The level here at the Atacama Rally will be quite elevated this year and this will be a good chance to test ourselves against the best rally riders and teams in the world in preparation for the 2019 Dakar Rally.”